Monday, June 08, 2015


Eric Casebolt, one of the twelve McKinney, Texas police officers who responded with force on June 5th to the apparent crime of black youth at a pool party has been suspended.

One of them. Suspended.

Many black commentators are adding "attend pool parties" to the growing list of things black people cannot do in the post-racial, post-slavery, democratic, 21st Century United States. Cannot breathe. Cannot cross the street. Cannot shop. Cannot play. Cannot walk home. Cannot be at home, sleeping.

Casebolt is seen in a video that has gone viral doing all kinds of unstable and utterly typical cop shit. He shouts expletives and threats at black children. He makes authoritative statements about "the law" that aren't actually true. He points his loaded gun at children -- children -- who pose no threat and break no law. He singularly targets people of color. These are all well-worn practices of police in the US. His violence toward a 14-year-old girl is particularly nauseating (and elucidating) in its depiction of both racial and gendered hate.

White neighborhood adults look on with approval. Fellow white cops run support. Cue CNN speculating whether race was indeed a factor.

Wait. Suspended?

This happens so often I imagine it is impossible to keep track: a cop murders or otherwise terrorizes black people (primarily, and others as well) and the police department, as a temporary stop-gap, face-saving measure, suspends that cop. Puts the cop on administrative leave. Sends the cop home to receive full pay and benefits.

This practice is really an escalation of the initial act of violence perpetrated by the police department:

1. It's a reward. In any other profession, when a person is away from the job and collecting salary and benefits, it is known as a paid vacation. This practice essentially rewards cops who murder and terrorize black people with free time and no responsibility. It communicates, to those targeted, that a "win" has taken place in the white supremacist struggle to utterly dominate and suppress black people.

2. It exacerbates the trauma. How must it feel for the targeted community to know that the cop who has just terrorized them is home, with freedom of movement and travel, with full pay, and with free time to think all the thoughts that led him or her to engage in the terror in the first place?

3. It adds economic violence to the physical violence. Paying belligerent cops to do nothing but relax and collect pay, organize their defense in the rare instances that they are prosecuted, and chat with their pals at the Fraternal Order of Police, quite literally takes resources out of the communities that cops target with their terror. Public money is placed into the hands of killer cops (who almost always have the full backing of the state for their defense anyway) and is thus not being used to address the immediate and long-term needs of those targeted, terrorized, and traumatized.

4. It's violence against language. See Orwell's 1984 or contemporary American news media for further examples. Given the frequency of police terror* (police kill a black person an average of once every 28 hours -- to say nothing of other forms of terror, and other identities targeted), public response only very rarely demands a response. A suspension soothes liberal concern trolls. When the police and the media call a reward a punishment -- a paid vacation a suspension -- it actually works its way into people's heads. Not only do some folks think punishment has been meted out, some feel the offending cop has been unfairly "victimized" with "suspension."

5. Regarding the asterisk above: the very existence of police is police terror. That's why it's not enough to disarm the police. They need to be disbanded as well.

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